Tuesday 25 June 2019

Writing Novels

I started to write this novella years ago.I am usually too lazy to write the longer forms but have ventured there twice just to experience the pain of it.... 
The idea initially was - Why not  Mills and Boon? Sure I've read dozens of them!
HOWEVER Mills and Boon said I didn't follow their formula. Fair enough. I meant to follow it but got waylaid by the characters themselves... 
Another publisher or two liked the style but  Could I write about something else? Who wants to read about love in a school staff-room???
A fourth Publisher didn't really like any of the main characters. Could I make them nicer??
Now I know that Austen, the Brontes and many other of the greats have suffered lots of rejections but I'm very thin in the skin and I'm not one of the Greats so Three's A Crowd was relegated to a shoe box- a very fancy designer one, but a shoe box all the same.
I am at that "tidy up the loose ends of my life" stage, where possible, and have finally decided to air it again, so the plan is to put it up on Amazon as an e-book. 
Will keep you posted and meanwhile here's an intro....


Tara Jones watches as her friend’s limbs spin sex to the sound of Spanish guitar. Jane Rooney loves all things exotic and at the moment she is netting Joshua Williams, a Nigerian medical student, all six foot five of him, in an aphrodisiac of rolling limbs and smouldering glances. Jane never seduces an Irish man. “They’re all gobshites! And none of them can dance,” she declares as she sallies forth in skin tight top and spray on jeans.

Jane is a dancer; there can be no doubt about that. The level of testosterone rises by 50% within her orbit. Tara throws another glass of Chardonnay into her as she surveys the matchbox dance floor now heaving under the weight of poets, well heeled winos, and Latin American music lovers. La Taverna on a Sunday night is a heady mix to the English teacher, but with the Monday grind stone hovering and Emily Dickinson’s poems still to be abridged, Tara Jones wonders if she might not just call it a night. She extracts her mobile from her Fendi shoulder bag and with a painted forefinger scrolls down to City Cabs.
Geoff Rodgers spotting Tara from his bar stool lunges towards her. “Tara Jones? God, I haven’t seen you since-” He plonks himself on top of her sequenced cardigan, spilling drinks and upsetting the Moroccan bouncer who is chatting up, what looks to Tara, like a high maintenance fifteen year old.
 “He’s with me, Georgio,” she reassures the Moroccan who is squaring up to Geoff, not impressed with his drunken slither.
“Any friend of the Salsa Sway Queen’s,” he says thumping Geoff on the back causing him to spill a few more drinks.
“Sorry Tara, I’ll replace that.” Geoff calls to a waiter and orders the most expensive wine on the list; at a hundred and seventy five euro a bottle Tara decides that her annihilation of Emily’s poems can wait another day. Geoff Rodgers springs onto the dance floor where he indulges in dangerous gyrations between Jane and her score.
He is cute, Tara thinks, in a boyish sort of way- not really her type, but then why restrict herself to types? Besides, she is out to get over Trevor Adams who hasn’t bothered to call her since that smooch at the Oscar Wilde annual bash. He is probably holed up in his cave writing sonnets to some other muse. A man from Mars unable or unwilling to deal with her Venusian curves. There is a limit to Tara’s New Age patience and unconditional loving.
She hates to hide her feelings; in and out of bed she is passionate, but she had felt so differently about this one. She had resolved to play it cool, to allow for his fear of intimacy etc, etc. A poet afraid of intimacy? Who ever heard of it? His feelings were all in his head and at the tip of his pen. She could delude herself no longer; no return call three weeks after the event is a bit of a freeze. Tara sips her Margot.
There is, of course, the prospect of the new heart throb on the staff of Seapoint High. Dave MacFadden is hot and handsome, perhaps a bit aloof, but definitely not a would-be artist, rather an outdoorsy type of man, Indiana Jone-ish, a bit of rough and tumble. Maybe she’d made a mistake going for the pale interesting ones who were so precious about themselves. Maybe it was time to go walkabout among the Wicklow Hills, join the local Orienteering club, or better still set one up in the school; Mr. MacFadden would be sure to be impressed by that little initiative.
She pours another glass of Margot. It couldn’t be the top of the range, but still, Margot is Margot and the alternative is Emily’s “Funeral in her Brain.”
“Leave some for me,” Geoff cautions her from swathes of body heat and pulsating limbs. Tara closes her eyes. Her head is beginning to spin. Geoff Rodgers lunges for what remains of the Margot and places it to his lips. Jane’s snakelike arm encircles his torso as she attempts to pull him back to the throes of a hot salsa threesome but Geoff resists and instead sweeps Tara off to the basement of La Taverna.
Geoff Rodgers certainly isn’t in his cave. His hands are up her thighs and in a minute it will be full coitus non interruptus. The thought startles her.
He is beginning to groan as he pushes himself towards her and is more than a bit surprised when she pulls away and stumbles past him.
“Geoff, I just have to go, I’ll see you around.”
“Jesus!” he mutters. “Bitch! Fecking tease!” he adds, before sinking into a stupor.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2019

Monday 17 June 2019

Using Props

Week 9 of my flash fiction course and nearly there...
The object of this exercise is to take a prop and  let it chart the life of a character in 300 words...

The Sacred Space

 She first became aware, somewhere in her teens, that a crack in the wall is not a bad thing. The Sacred Heart on her parents’ wall, the burning heart surmounted with cross and thorns, that surveyed her every misdemeanour and purported to represent long suffering love for humanity and boundless- passionate love, appalled her. She was done with self loathing, guilt and catholic recrimination.

She found a wall of her own and replaced the bloodied heart with a giant poster of Bogart, trench coat fitted and feodora hatted, flicking ash from the corner of his curled lip snarl. Like a totem pole the man-poster attracted bad boys until she ran out of patience with them. A clenched fist inside the Venusian mirror with handle became her aspiration. She feasted on de Beauvoir and Kate Millett, the Second Sex and Sexual Politics and baulked at her status as “the other”.  

 But biological clock ticking, cow heavy like Sylvia, she watched the wall morph into Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too as she moved backwards and forwards simultaneously. She lost sight of the wall while it cracked and shattered until, suddenly free, cheap prints of Venetian canals, Greek ruins, heavily carbon footprinted vacations reflected her domain.

 These copies of copies attracted creative friends and their very own originals: water colours, oils and acrylics of fruit bowls, sunflowers and streetscapes. An army of creative women demanding wall space. She wrote a poem and won a mirror. And at last found a wall that reflected her own image.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2019

Monday 3 June 2019

Continue the opening line..

Week 8 Flash fiction course.

The task is to continue the opening line," Smoke escaped from the basement window" and end the story with the image of smoke.
This exercise did not interest me at all but to progress to week 9 I had to complete it. Doggedly I sat at keyboard and here is the result. Try it!


Smoke escapes from the basement window. She’d opened the sash window to stifle the smell and there it is, the tell tale curl, the waft of forbidden activity drifting into the garden. He would kill her if he knew what she was at. She’d promised on her grandmother’s grave to never do it again. So much for oaths. Her grandmother lived for sixty years with the same problem. Three score years, she’d be happy with that, until the end anyway. In the end her granny felt short-changed, her life’s ambition, to write her account of a stifled life, unaccomplished. 
The trails of smoke curl upwards like silk scarves thrown. Cleo stiffens. She hears him pottering about nearby trying to connect two hose pipes. He’s cursing and muttering to himself. Not handy. That’s what her granny said about him when he arrived. And very bad tempered is what she should have added. Violent, in fact, at times; hopefully not this time. 
But he hadn’t much sense of smell which was a disadvantage if you live with someone with a compulsion like hers. There was a name for it; she couldn’t remember what it was.  They said the habit was foul. They talked of it as if it was a genetic deviation. They didn’t get it, the anticipation, the exhilaration. She’d set fire to the curtains once or twice, her own that is, but that was unintended. Her damage was usually confined to old shacks and derelict buildings. 
“She’s at it again.” Her mother’s voice dowses her musings. “Can’t you smell it coming from the basement?”
 “I’ll tan her hide!” he shouts.
 Cleo takes a final drag, legs it out the window and heads for the barn where she can already smell the euphoria of smoke rising.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2019